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Ram strategy work pretty flawlessly. If you're sinking their ship in the process, you're doing it wrong. Manowar: Full-sail ram at the bow, you should expose it right away. Frigate: Half-sail ram in angle at the bow, stop right before the hit.
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Then you have to get at least 2 frigates dead this way in a later story mission while another ship is going around firing too. Had one try where I was about to get the second and the NPC destroyed him cause the damn swivel guns wouldn't lock on.
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Is the problem killing them too quickly or is have you not upgraded the Aquila much?
if first Id use chaingun then a ram to the front (at halfsail usually and full on orpheus herself) usually gets it to the point where the barrels will be visible.
if you have a low amount of upgrades and orpheus' heat shot pretty much 1 hits (like my first time lol) Spend time dodging and unloading cannon shots after the first 2-3 I'd try to hit with partial shots (have half of the spread hit the front or back and the other half hit the non lethal.
Not sure if you might be able to break her open with the small gun maybe someone else on forum could confirm.
Btw thanks ubisoft for creating a challenge to see how weak my ship could be. sometimes I feel like its something like this
Shawn: O hey Desmond, were going to have you doing that big ship battle Connor had with the Orpheus. Desmond: Cool *commence mission* Takes out 5 boats/Ram 1 hits a frigate/Heat shots a frigate 1 shot/heatshots and rams the orpheous head on ftw. Desmond: KING OF THE 7 SEAS B____!! Shawn: oooo sorry Desmond looks like you're going have to give that another shot. Desmond: WTF? I couldn't have done it more perfectly. what did I do wrong?